The Music of John Williams: Jaws, Jurassic Park, Star Wars… and more November 14 – 2023

Gil Harel / Brandeis University

Perhaps no composer in the canon of cinematic music has had a more prolific career than John Williams. Indeed, over the past seven decades, this remarkable artist–known for his frequent collaborations with director Steven Spielberg–has scored films spanning a veritable cornucopia of genres. What, can we surmise, is the secret to his success? Among his many gifts as a composer, John Williams is a master of the musical leitmotif – melodic cells that provide an aural reference to a character, place, object, or idea in a given story. Whether capturing the looming threat of a menacing shark, a bicycle suspended against the backdrop of a moonlit firmament, imagination-defying colossal dinosaurs, or iconic lightsaber-wielding warriors, Williams has demonstrated an uncanny ability to craft infectious musical lines that seem perfectly suited to the material. During this lecture, Professor Gil Harel will provide an analysis of several scores, demonstrating how his music is of paramount importance to the films they frame.

Gil Harel is a musicologist and music theorist who lectures widely at Brandeis University and additional venues on topics ranging from renaissance motets to atonal opera. A piano accompanist and vocal coach, Professor Harel’s musical interests range from western classical repertoire to musical theater and jazz. Previously, he has served on the faculty at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China, and at CUNY Baruch College, where he was awarded the prestigious “Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching.”

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